Zambia urges calm over fourth telco operator furore
Under pressure, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) said that the country’s fourth mobile phone network operator Beeline Telecoms will start operating on 30 June this year.
Beeline was awarded the fourth operator licence in February last year and was expected to launch operations between August and September, but failed to do so citing COVID-19-related challenges.
It then applied to ZICTA for an extension in order to procure and install equipment, which the regulator agreed to.
ZICTA has come under increasing pressure from industry stakeholders, like the Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA), who have urged the body to revoke the licence because of the delays.
ZICTA acting corporate communications manager Hansford Chaaba said the Authority is confident the new operator will enhance competition within telecommunications, which will lead to better customer services.
ZACA Executive Secretary Zuba Sakala said there was a strong possibility Beeline may not launch operations - as was the case with Uzi Zambia, which having secured the licence, failed to launch operations and ultimately had the licence revoked.
Sakala told the local Daily Nations newspaper that the situation is of “great concern to ZACA” and called for urgent action by the government.
ZICTA’s Chaaba said, “We are happy to mention that June 30, 2022 is fast approaching and we can’t wait to have a fourth mobile phone operator because of the benefits that comes with more players in the market. We are under the impression that the more players in the market, the more people will enjoy services.”